A number of Tauranga City Council candidates want to initiate a change to council’s engagement with the community.
Erika Harvey, Andrew Hollis, Heidi Hughes, Dawn Kiddie, Tina Salisbury, A.j. Tuhoro and current councillor Kelvin Clout say they are committed to find a new way forward right off the back of the election, regardless of who is elected.
“Tauranga City Council has not done well historically at identifying and engaging our communities and we all know this needs to change for effective governance and successful planning for our city,” says group representative Tina Salisbury.
“Our communities are filled with wisdom and have a much clearer idea of what is needed in their communities that the elected members do. We can do so much more together as a city of people engaged and invested in our city’s future.”
The group hope they can come up with a way to approach community engagement and community partnership that will benefit everyone.
Th group says this is not a self-serving agenda.
“The group of candidates who are presenting this initiative did not all know each other before this election season began.
“Each of us are standing for Council because of our love for the City and the people who live here.
“So rather than use it for our own gain to get elected, we decided to open it up to all standing candidates to participate in. This is an initiative for the benefit of our city no matter who is elected.”
By making this charter public, the group hopes to let the public know they’re committed to change the culture and practice of the City Council around authentic community engagement.
They also hope it will hold accountable those who agree to it, to actually follow through with action after the election.
“Those who have chosen not to put their names to it, are not necessarily against it in principle.
“Some of them simply needed more information before deciding and our deadline was tight to get it out before voting begins.
“Practically, it works. It produces great returns for the community and City Council.”
They say it increases engagement from residents and more trust in the City Council, increases buy-in from the community and partnership in decision making.
Tina says authentic community engagement reduces costs and delays in poorly planned projects and expensive consultants, the city is full of wisdom and skill.
“We all know that council haven’t done this well, although may have been some desire to do so.
“All of the current re-standing Councillors have said they agree to this Community Engagement Charter which begs the questions, why haven’t they initiated it before now?
“The fact is only some of us may be elected and will be in a position to bring this powerful change to the way council functions going forward, but all of us have influence in the city and we all want to create positive change.”
In a nutshell, the initiative is a commitment to move forward collaboratively, with the diverse community, to find a new way of partnering in decision making, projects and plans for our city, based on models that are working in City Councils around the world today.
“There is nothing set in stone about ‘how’ this will take place. That is for those elected to determine, with the community, after the election.
“For a change to happen, it requires a commitment to a culture change and a process change, that involves more voices than just those standing for election, and they need to all be at the table to make those decisions together.”
The group says they wanted to start the conversation and present it in a way that it has more traction than merely an election promise to get votes.
“Each of us want to change the culture of our City Council around authentic, empowering, community engagement and the best way is together.”
Those who have signed their name to the Community Engagement Charter are:
Kelvin Clout, Erika Harvey, Andrew Hollis, Heidi Hughes, Dawn Kiddie, Tina Salisbury, & A.j. Tuhoro, Larry Baldock, Jako Abrie, Greg Brownless, Danny Cancian, Rick Curach, Matthew Gill, Bill Grainger, Peter Gregson, Deborah Johnston, Anna Larsen, Terry Molloy, Max Mason, Steve Morris, Suzi Paige, Rob Poad, Barry Pollett, John Robson and Josh Te Kani.
View the charter in full here.